Transport Minister Dipuo Peters says that fatal road traffic accidents increased by 11% over the festive period – between 1 December 2015 to 11 January 2016 – to 1,387.
The minister said that there were 220 more deaths over that period, up by 14% from the prior festive season, to 1,755 people killed.
The statistics showed that despite popular belief, minibus taxis are not the root cause of fatalities on the country’s roads.
Small motor vehicles accounted for 47.9% of total crashes, followed by light vehicles at 22.7%, mini buses at 10.1%, trucks at 4.1%.
Minister Peters said that passengers accounted for 38.3% of road accidents, pedestrians accounted for 34.9% and cyclists for 2.8%.
She noted that the age group most affected in road accidents was between the ages of 25 and 39, while most accidents occurred on the weekend.
More than 6,000 motorists were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol over the reported period, while more than 800 motorists were arrested for excessive speeding, the minister said.
The Western Cape recorded the highest increase (33%) in deaths, from 122 last season to 162, followed by North West which increased by 26% from 108 to 136 fatalities. Other provinces also showed large increases of fatalities – Gauteng (10%), Eastern Cape (22%), Free State (20%), Mpumalanga (16%), Limpopo (12%) and the Northern Cape (19%). The only province to show a decline in road fatalities was KwaZulu-Natal (-2%).
Not wearing seatbelts and texting while driving were major concerns.
Peters said some people also tended to spend more money on sound systems for their vehicles than on there safety.
“Every car with a child under the age of 3 should have a seat for the child in the back.”
She was disappointed by some traffic officers who were caught on the wrong side of the law. Two officers from the North West and one from Gauteng were caught allegedly soliciting bribes.
Over the festive season, 1.7 million vehicles were pulled over and checked, more than 6 000 motorists were arrested for driving under the influence, and 808 were arrested for speeding. A total of 5 710 unroadworthy vehicles were taken off the roads.
Reporting with News24